Guest curator : Michel Giroud

Raoul Hausmann invented Lettrist Poetry (Poèmes Affiches [Billboard Poems], 1918), visu- al poetry (ABCD, 1922-1924 and the optophone (1920-30, its fabrication only technically made possible in 2016-2018). He pioneered “poésure” [poainting] and “peintrie” [paintry] (1946) with his friend Kurt Schwitters who was exiled in Britain. He absorbed innovations by Marinetti (Les mots en liberté [Freed Words], 1914), was inspired by early Dada from Zurich (Ball and Huelsenbeck), by Expressionism (Kandinsky’s Klänge [Sounds], 1913) and the experiments Theo Van Doesburg (1920-1930) carried out into what later became known as Concrete Poetry. His brush with Lettrism (invented in 1946 by Isou in Paris) con- sisted of a joint project with his friend Illiazd on an anthology, Poésie de Mots Inconnus [The Poetry of Unknown Words] (Paris, 1948). Simultaneously he recognised the stature of Antonin Artaud, who in 1945 had just been released from internment in the asylum at Rodez. Raoul Hausmann contributed work to the Italian Arte Nucleare (Nuclear Art) movement in the 1950s and by the early '60s could be found at the centre of discussions on Pierre Garnier’s Spatial Poetry and Henri Chopin’s Sound Poetry (published in Chopin’s periodical OU from 1964 to 1974). The exchanges he had with a wide range of correspondents in England, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Austria, France, New York… demon- strate his implication in the development of novel poetic forms that were dynamic and true explorations of blossoming trans-media. We can start completing a portrait of Ra- oul Hausmann through work that has been little known up until now, his numerous arti- cles (published and unpublished), notes and drawings in sketchbooks, poem-paintings (paintings and drawings executed in felt pen, ink and poster paint); the working environ- ment of a feverish solitary explorer and mirror of his many inner voices.

The present exhibition at Rochechouart uncovers both theoretical and historical aspects of the dadasopher’s creativitity, such as innovations in the last decade of his life as he investigated modern forms of intermedia and trans(e)media. Like the Renaissance phi- losopher Giordano Bruno, Hausmann diligently approached these fields as a poetic art- ist and artistic poet, grasping new dimensions that were being theorised by Dick Hig- gins, one of the leading lights in the Fluxus movement. Raoul Hausmann will be found to have been a unique precursor (Stirner), a fearless son of Dionysus (Nietzsche), a singular spirit (Jarry) and an inveterate crosser of boundaries (Artaud), despite his isolation in Limoges.

Michel Giroud, july 2018

The French Ministry of Culture (Cultural Heritage and National Museums Department) has awarded special supplementary funding to Rochechouart Museum of Contemporary Art for this exhibition, one of 15 selected this year that represent exceptional cultural value of national interest.
The museum would like to thank the following for their generous loans of works; Besançon FRAC Collection, Exhibition Collection from Enseigne des Oudins Gallery (Paris), Gantner Gallery (Bourogne), Artists’ Book Centre at Saint-Yrieix-la-Perche, Museum of Amused Muses (MMAM, Alpina) and Semiose Gallery, Paris.

Raoul HAUSMANN - Sans titre, 1963, Gouache sur papier, 52,4 x 67,1 cm, © MDAC Rochechouart